The Richmond District
San Francisco

The Richmond District in San Francisco is one of the city's often overlooked neighborhoods, that said, there are good reasons to check it out.

This page of the San Francisco Travel (Secrets!) Guide will give you a local's recommendations for worthwhile places to see and restaurants to try, as well as let you know what special attractions are nearby.


What's the Richmond District Like?:

This side of the city is commonly referred to as the outerlands. Named so because during the development of San Francisco, these neighborhoods used to be acres and acres of vacant sand dunes, where people used to go to "vacation" away from the city.

Of course that is no longer true today, but there are many people who say, when they hear that I live in the outer Richmond district, "Wow, you're WAY out there..."

It doesn't have the obvious charms of North Beach, the hip bars like the Mission, or the shopping like downtown, however, it does offer several beautiful, natural areas that make you forget you are in a city, an alternative to Chinatown, as well as a good number of excellent restaurants that are worth crossing town to try.

The influences in this neighborhood come from the Asians, Russians and Irish who have settled here. That's why you will see a diversity in Asian cuisine, several Russian bakeries and European markets, as well as a good sprinkling of Irish pubs.

If you are interested in getting out of the typical tourist zones, and to more off-the-beaten-path places, you will love checking out some of the quirky corners of this unpretentious part of town.

It has a reputation for being foggy, and although that is absolutely true in the summer, the rest of the year the climate is the same as anywhere else in the city.


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Orientation of the Richmond District:

The Richmond District runs along the entire north side of Golden Gate Park. It is divided into roughly three sections:

  • the Inner Richmond (from Arguello to Park Presidio)
  • "the Richmond" (middle) (Park Presidio to 25th Avenue)
  • the Outer Richmond (from 25th Avenue until the Great Highway)

Clement street in the Inner Richmond district is considered the "other Chinatown". There you will find a variety of Asian restaurants, herb shops, bakeries, and clothing stores. Here you are also close to the De Young and Academy of Science Museums in Golden Gate Park, as well as the Japanese Tea Garden and Conservatory of Flowers.

The Outer Richmond District is where you will find some of the city's best outdoor recreational areas such as Lands End, Sutro Baths and Park, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach and Baker Beach, as well as access to San Francisco's most affluent neighborhood, Seacliff. This is where, for example, Robin Williams used to have a home.

The Legion of Honor museum sits majestically within Lincoln Park, tucked away behind coastal cypress trees. A walk around this area offers fantastics views of the gateway to the bay, the Marin Headlands, and Pacific Ocean.

Browse the sections below for ideas of places to check out in this under-rated, but cool San Francisco neighborhood. All listings are ordered from the Inner Richmond district towards the Outer Richmond district.


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Attractions in and near the Richmond District:


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Shops:

The Park Life
If you would like to bring a unique gift home for someone special - consider this cute clothing boutique that specializes in quirky, park-side-themed (meaning the sunset and richmond district) books and t-shirts.
Address: 220 Clement btwn 3rd & 4th Ave.

Green Apple Books
This is my favorite bookstore in the city. I'm not sure why exactly, but I know I'm not alone in my opinion. Locals love it here. It has something to do with the cozy narrow walkways, the creaky hardwood floors, the way the books are presented, and the friendly and knowledgeable staff - it all just invites you to stay and get lost for a while. If you are a lover of books and visiting the neighborhood, it's a must.
Address: 506 Clement Street btwn 6th & 7th Ave.


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Restaurants:

Chapeau! $$$
The name means "Wow!", and this French restaurant delivers with a classy atmosphere, friendly and attentive staff, and a menu serving up enticing dishes like pan-seared, duck breast with creamy truffled polenta, or a lavender honey and dijon petit poussin. It's a great neighborhood place for a special evening out.
Address: 126 Clement btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave.

Bstar $$-$$$
This is a sister restaurant to Burma Superstar, and if there is a really long wait there, come give this spot a try. The menu and atmosphere at BStar is a touch less casual, but they still offer the adored tea leaf salad, and samusa soup. My favorite dish at this spot is their Ochazuke, "a Japanese-style comfort food with grilled Salmon, pan fried rice, green tea broth and a poached egg." De-lish!
Address: 127 Clement btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave.

Q $$
Affordable prices, solid portions, a colorful yet cozy interior and a variety of comfort food dishes that will please both vegetarians and meat-eaters, such as fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy or their ultimate vegan grill - a variety of grilled veggies over rice pilaf.
Address: 225 Clement btwn 3rd & 4th Ave.

Burma Superstar $$
A Richmond district treasure, this place almost always has a wait. Unlike any other cuisine, the flavors just explode in your mouth. Try their specialty dishes - the tea leaf salad, vegetarian samusa soup, or coconut chicken curry noodles. Go early to avoid long waits for a table. They don't take reservations, but will take down your cell number and call you when your table is ready, so that you can grab a drink nearby.
Address: 309 Clement btwn 4th & 5th Avenue

Namu $$$
This casual, yet stylish, restaurant offers Asian-inspired cuisine with an emphasis on organic, local, sustainable ingredients. Try the Korean beef short-rib "tacos". Mmmm!
Address: 439 Balboa btwn 5th & 6th Ave.

House of Bagels $
This is probably the only place in San Francisco that makes bagels the way they are supposed to be - boiled and then baked. If you are a New Yorker having a hankering for a proper bagel, give this place a try.
Address: 5030 Geary Blvd (btwn 14th and 15th Ave.)

Aziza $$$$
The other Bay Area top-100 restaurant in the Richmond district, this is undoubtedly the swankiest restaurant in the neighborhood. With a Mediterranean influence, this place offers the best in food and beverage quality, service and ambiance. The minute you walk through the doors you feel you have entered another world. Highly recommended.
Address: 5800 Geary at 22nd Avenue

Pizzetta 211 $$
A Richmond district neighborhood gem, this small (only about 8 seats!), charming spot specializes in hand-made, thin-crust pizzas. Go early to avoid a wait.
Address: 211 23rd at California St.

Tommy's Mexican $$
I personally think the food here is just ok, but there is often a crowd waiting at the door here. The reason for this is that Tommy's serves up amazing margaritas made with fresh-squeezed lime juice, as well as a menu of over 100 different tequilas!
Address: 5929 Geary Blvd btwn 23rd & 24th Ave.

Khan Toke $$
The food is satisfying and tasty at this Thai restaurant, but the reason to come here is for the ambiance which is like no other place in the city. You step out of your shoes in the entry hallway, and are led into a romantic, dimly-lit dining room, with walls that are covered with intricately carved wood paneling. The tables are situated low to the ground, with pillows as seating, but don't worry! There are cut-outs for your legs below. Service is efficient and friendly, and prices are similar to other Thai restaurant establishments.
Address: 5937 Geary btwn 23rd & 24th Ave.

Bill's Place $
Casual with a diner-esque atmosphere, come here for satisfying burgers, fries and milkshakes.
Address: 2315 Clement btwn 24th & 25th

Pacific Cafe $$$
A cozy spot serving up seafood dishes, one of the draws of this spot is the complementary pinot grigio that is served during your wait for a table.
Address: 7000 Geary at 34th Ave.

Chino's Taqueria $
I think this is the best Mexican burrito you can get on the west side of town. It's an unattractive hole-in-the-wall, but the prices are reasonable, the service is fast, and the food is tasty. Try a quesadilla with all the fillings - it's basically like a burrito except they grill the tortilla for you. Yum!
Address: 3416 Balboa btwn 35th & 36th Ave.

Kim Son Vietnamese $-$$
Come here for great spring rolls and delicious pho - aka beef noodle soup. It's a bright, clean, family-operated restaurant with friendly and efficient service, and food offered at a good value.
Address: 3614 Balboa btwn 37th & 38th Ave.

Yu Zen $$
This tiny, unassuming, family-owned restaurant is a neighborhood gem that many local San Franciscans aren't aware of. Serving high-quality, authentically Japanese cuisine and sushi, you won't find any massive, deep-fried, mayo-drenched rolls here. If you have a hankering for fresh fish, give this little place a try...
Address: 4036 Balboa btwn 41st & 42nd Ave.

The Cliff House $$$
This restaurant is a popular tourist attraction with prices that somewhat reflect that. That said, the view of the Pacific through the floor to ceiling windows offers a pretty great "wow" factor. There are actually two restaurants here, one, a more affordable bistro, and the second, Sutro's, an upscale dining establishment.
Address: 1090 Point Lobos Avenue

The Beach and Park Chalet $$
These are two sister restaurants in the same building. The Beach Chalet is upstairs and faces the beach, with a spectacular view of the ocean, and The Park Chalet is downstairs and faces, well, can you guess? The park!

The Beach Chalet is more touristy while locals tend to prefer the Park Chalet. Both get very busy on sunny weekends. They occasionally have live music, and Tuesdays offer a taco special during happy hour.
Address: 1000 Great Highway (at the west end of Golden Gate Park)


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Coffee shops:

The Blue Danube
One of my favorite spots! Cozy, like someone's living room, serving soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts in addition to coffee drinks.
Address: 306 Clement btwn 4th & 5th Ave.

John Campbell's Irish Bakery
Specializing in Irish baked goods, here you will find light, fluffy chocolate chip or blueberry scones, fresh loaves of soda bread, savory pasties or shepherd's pie, as well as an assortment of fruity dessert pies. Yum!
Address: 5625 Geary Blvd btwn 20th & 21st Ave.

Simple Pleasures
Excellent coffee (it's my brother-in-law's favorite in the whole city, and not just 'cause it's close!), very relaxed atmosphere, and live music several nights a week. They also have a few beers on tap, a small hot and cold sandwich menu, as well as lots of sweet treats to go with your coffee beverage of choice.
Address: 3434 Balboa btwn 35th & 36th Ave.


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Sweet treats:

Genki Crepes
This is a cute little Asian corner store that sells both sweet and savory crepes, milk shakes, and egg puffs. They also have a wide variety of imported candies and other goodies. Last time I was there I found a dark chocolate Kit Kat! Why don't they make that here!?!
Address: 330 Clement btwn 4th & 5th Ave.

The Toy Boat Dessert Cafe
Named so for the novelty and collectible toys that decorate the interior, if you like dessert, this is the place to come. Kids will want to ride the mechanical horse near the entry, and love the overwhelming choices of treats that should satisfy any sweet tooth. They serve ice cream, milk shakes, moist, decadent cakes and delicious fruity pies. Most people come here for dessert, but they also have a menu of savory items that include salads and sandwiches.
Address: 401 Clement at 5th Ave.

Joe's Ice Cream
A family-operated parlor, this place has been serving up delightful scoops of ice cream since 1959!
Address: 5420 Geary btwn 18th & 19th Ave.


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